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Baby Mountain Lions Try Hard To Act Tough ... And End Up Looking Cuter

In the Western United States, few animals have a more fearsome reputation than the cougar. But at three weeks old, even the biggest big cat is really just a kitten.

On Thursday, the National Park Service announced the birth of two wild mountain lions, releasing an unintentionally adorable video of the duo doing a (less-than-convincing) impression of Mom.

Known as P-46 and P-47, the two newest residents of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area were recently implanted with tracking devices after researchers found their well-hidden den.

"We only send one biologist to the den and take precautions on our scent," wrote a Park Service spokesperson on YouTube. "The purpose is to mark these kittens so that we can learn about them as part of our decade-long study to better understand how urbanization is affecting this very vulnerable population."

National Park Service

National Park Service

One of the biggest threats to the area's mountain lions is genetic in nature: Increasingly isolated by human development, Southern California's cougars have become dangerously inbred.

One proposed solution to the problem is the construction of wildlife crossings connecting different swaths of protected land.

"Typically, all male mountain lions and half of the females disperse to find their own range," wildlife specialist Seth Riley told The L.A. Times. "Here, they try [but] run into freeways and development - and into adult males - and get killed."

To learn more about the effort to save Southern California's big cats, visit the Santa Monica Mountains Fund here.